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PIB_Environment_and_Ecology

JUNE - 2020

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MAY - 2020

Amendment to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006

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  • To address unprecedented situation arising from the global outbreak of COVID-19 and to ramp up availability or production of various drugs, the MoEFCC has made an amendment to EIA Notification 2006.

 

What is the amendment about?

  • All projects or activities in respect of bulk drugs and intermediates, manufactured for addressing various ailments, have been re-categorized from the existing Category ‘A’ to ‘B2’ category.
  • Projects falling under Category B2 are exempted from the requirement of collection of Baseline data, EIA Studies and public consultation.
  • The re-categorization of such proposals has been done to facilitate decentralization of appraisal to State Level so as to fast track the process.

 

Projects Categorization and Clearance under EIA:

  • Environmental clearance is required in respect of all new projects or activities listed in the Schedule to the 2006 notification and their expansion and modernization, including any change in product–mix.
  • Since EIA 2006 the various developmental projects have been re-categorised into category ‘A’ and category ‘B’ depending on their threshold capacity and likely pollution potential.
  • They require prior EC respectively from MOEFCC or the concerned State Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs).
  • Where state-level authorities have not been constituted, the clearance would be provided by the MOEFCC.

 

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in India:

  • EIA is a management tool to minimize adverse impacts of developmental projects on the environment and to achieve sustainable development through timely, adequate, corrective and protective mitigation measures.
  • The MoEFCC uses EIA Notification 2006 as a major tool for minimizing the adverse impact of rapid industrialization on the environment and for reversing those trends which may lead to climate change in the long run.
  • EIA has now been made mandatory under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 for 29 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs. 50 crores and above.

 

EIA stages:

  • Screening: This stage decides which projects a full or partial assessment need study.
  • Scoping: This stage decides which impacts are necessary to be assessed. This is done based on legal requirements, international conventions, expert knowledge and public engagement. This stage also finds out alternate solutions that avoid or at least reduce the adverse impacts of the project.
  • Assessment & evaluation of impacts and development of alternatives: This stage predicts and identifies the environmental impacts of the proposed project and also elaborates on the alternatives.
  • EIA Report: In this reporting stage, an environmental management plan (EMP) and also a non-technical summary of the project’s impact is prepared for the general public. This report is also called the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
  • Decision making: The decision on whether the project is to be given approval or not and if it is to be given, under what conditions.
  • Monitoring, compliance, enforcement and environmental auditing: This stage monitors whether the predicted impacts and the mitigation efforts happen as per the EMP.

 

Source: PIB

Effects of Himalayan slip on its Hydrology

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Tectonic activity and groundwater:

  • Researchers from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism have found the mighty Himalayas subside and move up depending on the seasonal changes in groundwater.
  • The Himalayan foothills and the Indo-Gangetic plain are sinking because its contiguous areas are rising due to tectonic activity associated with landmass movement or continental drift.
  • The new study shows that subsidence and uplift are found to be associated with seasonal changes in groundwater, apart from the normal, common reasons.
  • Water acts as a lubricating agent, and hence when there is water in the dry season, the rate of the slip of the fault in this region is reduced.
  • In the Himalaya, seasonal water from glaciers, as well as monsoon precipitation, plays a key role in the deformation of the crust and the seismicity associated with it.
  • The subsidence rate is associated with groundwater consumption.

 

What are the findings of the study?

  • The researchers have made the combined use of GPS and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) data, which has made it possible for them to quantify the variations of hydrologic mass.
  • The GRACE satellites, launched by the US in 2002, monitor changes in water and snow stores on the continents.
  • The combined data suggest a 12% reduction in the rate of the subsurface slip. This slip refers to how fast the fault is slipping relative to the foot and hanging wall.
  • The slip occurs at the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT), due to hydrological variations and human activities, over which there is the periodic release of accumulated strain.

 

GRACE Mission:

  • The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) was a joint mission of NASA and the German Aerospace Centre.
  • Twin satellites took detailed measurements of Earth’s gravity field anomalies from its launch in March 2002 to the end of its science mission in October 2017.
  • By measuring gravity anomalies, GRACE showed how mass is distributed around the planet and how it varies over time.

Methanotrophs: the methane-oxidizing bacteria

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Scientists at Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune have isolated 45 different strains of methanotrophic bacteria which have been found to be capable of reducing methane emissions from rice plants.

 

What are Methanotrophs?

  • They are bacteria that metabolize and convert methane into carbon-di-oxide.
  • They can effectively reduce the emission of methane, which is the second most important greenhouse gas (GHG) and 26 times more potent as compared to carbon-dioxide.
  • In rice fields, Methanotrophs are active near the roots or soil-water interfaces.
  • Besides methane mitigation studies, Methanotrophs can also be used in methane value addition (valorisation) studies.
  • Bio-methane generated from waste can be used by the Methanotrophs and can be converted to value-added products such as single-cell proteins, carotenoids, biodiesel, and so on.

 

Why rice fields?

  • Rice fields are human-made wetlands and are waterlogged for a considerable period. Anaerobic degradation of organic matter results in the generation of methane.
  • Rice fields contribute to nearly 10% of global methane emissions.
  • Very few studies in the world have focused on Methanotrophs from tropical wetlands or tropical rice fields.
  • Practically no cultures of indigenously isolated Methanotrophs from India were available.
  • Native and relevant Methanotrophs isolated from rice fields can be excellent models to understand the effect of various factors on methane mitigation.

Gaura Devi

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Union HRD Minister along with senior women officers of the Ministry planted a sapling in the memory of Gaura Devi, Chipko Activist in New Delhi.

 

Gaura Devi:

  • Gaura Devi was born in 1925 in a village named Lata in the state of Uttarakhand.
  • She moved to a nearby village named Reni by the Alaknanda River.
  • She was elected to lead the Mahila Mangal Dal (Women’s Welfare Association) in the wake of the Chipko movement.
  • The organization worked on the protection of community forests.

 

Her contributions in Chipko Movement:

  • Gaura Devi came to notice in 1974 when she was told that local loggers were cutting the trees.
  • The men of Reni village had been tricked out of the village by news that the government was going to pay out compensation for land used by the army.
  • She challenged the men to shoot her instead of cutting down the trees and she described the forest with her mother’s house.
  • They managed to halt their work by hugging the trees despite the abuse of the armed loggers.
  • They kept guard of the trees that night and over the next three- or four-days other villages and villagers joined the action. The loggers left leaving the trees.
  • After this incident, the Uttar Pradesh Government established a committee of experts to investigate the issue of felling of trees, and the lumber company withdrew its men from Reni.
  • The committee stated that the Reni forest was an ecologically sensitive area and that no trees should be felled there.
  • Thereafter the government of Uttar Pradesh placed a 10-year ban on all tree-felling in an area of over 1150 km².

Law for Rain Water Harvesting

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  • The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has issued the Model Building Bye Laws, 2016 for guidance of the States/UTs and has a chapter on ‘Rainwater Harvesting’.
  • These laws aim to regulate the over-exploitation and consequent depletion of ground water.
  • It would enable States/UTs to enact suitable ground water legislation for regulation of its development, which includes provision of rain water harvesting.

 

the By-Laws:

  • 33 States/UTs have adopted the rainwater harvesting provisions.
  • The provisions of this chapter are applicable to all the buildings.

 

Various provisions:

  • As per Model Building Bye Laws – 2016, provision of rainwater harvesting is applicable to all residential plots above 100 sq.m.
  • Water being a State subject, initiatives on water management including conservation and water harvesting in the Country is primarily States’ responsibility.
  • So, the implementation of the rainwater harvesting policy comes within the purview of the State Government/Urban Local Body / Urban Development Authority.

 

[Groundwater governance in India – Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has been constituted under Section 3(3) of the ‘Environment (Protection) Act, 1986’ for the purpose of regulation and control of groundwater development and management in the Country.

CGWA is regulating ground water withdrawal by industries/infrastructure/ mining projects in the country for which guidelines/ criteria have been framed which includes rainwater harvesting as one of the provisions while issuing No Objection Certificate.]

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